ecoATM is an automated cell phone recycling kiosk system aimed at reducing waste and “finding value in gently used electronics.” Conveniently located across the US including at many Walmart locations, these kiosks provide a quick and easy way to exchange used cell phones and other devices for cash instantly.
First launched in 2009, ecoATM has recycled over 37 million cell phones over their 14 year tenure.
How Do These Kiosks Work?
Each ecoATM is a 100% self-automated system facilitating the recycling of eligible electronic devices. These ATMs can be found at over 5,000 locations across the US.
ecoATMs accept all cell phones, tablets, and MP3 players regardless of condition. For devices in decent working condition, ecoATM offers cash compensation. All other devices are eligible for donation and recycling.
Chargers and other device accessories are also recyclable through ecoATM. However, compensation is not offered for device accessories.
ecoATMs do not accept the following electronics:
- Computers (including laptops)
- Smart watches
Once your phone or other device is placed into an ecoATM, it will be collected by the company and fully assessed for condition. If your phone works, it will be sent to a technician for any necessary repairs and cleaning prior to being resold as a used or refurbished device. If it is beyond repair, it will either be properly recycled or used for working parts.
Any devices determined to be stolen or otherwise involved in illicit activity are turned over to law enforcement.
To find an ecoATM location near you, click here.
How To Sell Your Old Cell Phones At Walmart?
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at the step-by-step process for how to use an ecoATM at Walmart.
Before getting started, keep in mind that you must be 18 years old or older to use an ecoATM. You will be required to verify your age and identity by providing a valid government-issued ID prior to receiving your cash payout.
The ecoATM will also take your photo, a digital signature, and a record of your fingerprint before issuing your compensation. This is because ecoATM works closely with law enforcement to ensure that their services are not being misused for illicit purposes.
Step 1: Get A Price Quote For Your Device
By using the ecoATM website or app, you can receive a price estimate for your phone or tablet prior to visiting a kiosk location. If your phone is not eligible for cash compensation, you will be notified during the price estimation process.
If you would rather skip this step, go right ahead. Once you’re ready to sell or donate your phone, you can simply arrive at any ecoATM kiosk location and receive a price offer on the spot.
Some of the factors affecting your potential quote include…
- The working condition of your device (Does it turn on? Do all major functions still work?)
- Cosmetic damage to your device (Does it have cracks or dents?)
- Water damage
- Age and model of the device (ecoATM pays significantly more for newer phones and devices)
- Device serial number (if the ecoATM determines that your phone was stolen, you will not be offered cash compensation and will be banned from further use of any ecoATM service)
Step 2: Prepare Your Phone
Before depositing your phone or other device into an ecoATM, you will need to follow a few simple steps to prepare the device.
First, you will need to sign out of and/or remove any personal accounts connected to your phone. The easiest way to do this is by resetting your phone to factory settings. This will also delete all of your personal data and information such as photos, videos, audio files, etc. ecoATM provides detailed instructions here on how to prepare your phone for sale or donation.
For your convenience, here’s a YouTube video from Howfinity explaining how to reset an iPhone to factory settings.
If you have an Android phone, check out this video from HardRest.Info about resetting Androids to factory settings.
Step 3: Find an ecoATM
Next, you will need to locate an ecoATM kiosk near you. ecoATM has over 5000 locations nationwide at places like Walmart and Kroger (including QFC and Fred Meyer), so you’re sure to find one within a reasonable distance of your home. Check out this locator tool to find your nearest ecoATM.
Over 3200 Walmart locations nationwide have ecoATMs, making Walmart the most common place to find a cell phone recycling kiosk. However, not all Walmart locations have ecoATMs.
Step 4: Get Paid in Cash for Your Phone
Finally, once you arrive at an ecoATM with your device in hand, it’s time to get paid. If you got a quote during step one, then you already know how much you will receive. If not, you will receive a quote as part of this process.
For a full look at how to sell your phone through an ecoATM, check out this video from SnapFix on YouTube.
If your phone is approved for cash compensation, you will receive cash instantly directly from the ecoATM kiosk. Getting paid in cash through ecoATM does not require any human-to-human contact.
The whole process of using an ecoATM to sell one phone takes about 10 minutes. If you need to sell multiple devices, the ecoATM can walk you through this process. There is no limit to the number of phones one person can deposit into an ecoATM.
Pros & Cons of Using ecoATM
The pros of using ecoATM include…
- The service is completely free to use
- Get paid in cash instantly for your old devices
- Find an ecoATM easily anywhere in the US
- All phones are accepted
- Promote recycling and waste reduction by keeping your device out of the landfill
- Declutter your home by getting rid of unused devices
- Provide someone else with a valuable refurbished device at an affordable price
The cons of using ecoATM are…
- Anyone who uses an ecoATM must agree to have their photograph, ID, signature, and fingerprint provided to law enforcement
- Payouts tend to be low compared to similar services
Services such as Decluttr have gained a lot of attention in recent years for offering some of the highest payouts for old phones and other devices. According to Decluttr’s website, they pay up to 33% more on average than carrier buyback programs or other phone recycling services.
However, while Decluttr only accepts certain phone models, ecoATM accepts all phones. For example, Decluttr does not accept any phones older than an iPhone 6 or MP3 players older than a 6th generation iPod Touch. If you are selling a newer phone or device, it might be worth looking into Decluttr. But if you’re trying to sell something a bit older, ecoATM is likely your best bet.
Can you sell a stolen phone to ecoATM?
No. According to ecoATM’s website, each kiosk contains “extensive security features and processes to deter the sale of any stolen devices and assist law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting suspected cell phone thieves.”
Does ecoATM take smartwatches?
No. ecoATM only accepts phones, tablets, and MP3 players.
Can you trick an ecoATM?
It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish by “tricking” the machine. However, ecoATMs run extensive safety and security checks on each kiosk user, including ID checks and fingerprint verification. ecoATM also works closely with law enforcement to prevent the misuse of their machines and to build cases on those who are suspected of using ecoATM to support illegal activity. For these reasons, it’s unlikely that attempting to “trick” an ecoATM will work in your favor.
To learn more about Walmart’s recycling program, check out our post about it here.